3618 West Broadway
(604) 731 4135
After initially having some difficulty finding Athene’s courtesy of my lackadaisical reliance on Google Maps, we found our way to the front entrance on a late weekday evening. Right away, the dimly lit interior and relaxed atmosphere made me feel as if we were being welcomed into the living room of a beloved heritage home. Inside, the place was already abuzz with a few full tables of diners as we were led to an empty table by the front window. Perhaps it was the absence of strong interior lighting and the fact that it was past 8pm already, but I did not get a sense of that tacky, white-everywhere-on-the-walls style of decor that seems to be the aesthetic of choice in too many North American Greek restaurants.
As a shared starter, my dining companion and I ordered a few slices of some wonderful pan-seared Saganaki Greek cheese. It was brought to our table by one of the servers in a small cast iron skillet, and splashed with a big squeeze of lemon before being placed on our table. The crispy golden exterior of the rectangular pieces which gave way to that rich creamy inside upon taking a bite was as good as expected. Frankly, how can you go wrong with this contrasting texture combination, brought to life with the acidity of the fresh lemon!
As a change of pace from the meat-focused choices I made at Candia Taverna, on this night I elected to go for the Kalamaris Skaras (charbroiled, lightly marinated sections of squid tubes) served with sides of Greek Rice, potatoes and of course Greek Salad. The smoky scent from the grill had transferred really well into the pieces of squid, which were not at all rubbery or excessively dried out, which is always a concern with this ingredient when eating out. They were seasoned just right, with hints of garlic and oregano. The accompanying carbohydrates, as ordinary as they always are in Greek cuisine, were fine as filler, and the salad refreshing.
To ensure that I would not leave without having a sampling of what is probably the most popular dish – the Lamb Souvlaki – I had a piece or two from the other plate on the table. They were clearly much better seasoned and bolder in flavor than what I ate at Candia. On top of this, the pieces were so much more moist and juicy inside. Though my sample size is small so far on Foodosophy in terms of my Greek reviews, hands down Athene’s has impressed me the most with how they prepare and cook their lamb. I hope to go back again to confirm this, just to make sure it was not just one lucky night with a skilled cook in the kitchen, and that the consistency is there before giving an all out recommendation.
I know some will say that Greek food in general is not overly creative and pretty standard from place to place. I suppose this could be said of most other cuisine. Though I do appreciate the exciting flavor combinations, and have a weakness for their grilled protein dishes, I do not have it all that often. Though with this far west end of West Broadway being the heart of the Hellenic Community of Vancouver, I am sure there are many fans in the neighborhood, and I still need to check out a few more Greek establishments in the district. Stay tuned…